Maui News

Wa’alaulea Celebrates Journey of Maui’s Own Voyaging Canoe

March 22, 2012, 1:20 PM HST
* Updated March 22, 1:24 PM
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Crew member Timmy Gilliom works on the finishing touches of the Mo'okiha O Pi'ilani at Kamehameha Iki Park in Lahaina. At 6'2", he pales in comparison to the massive hulls of the voyaging canoe. Courtesy Photo: Hui O Wa'a Kaulua.

By Wendy Osher

The 1st Annual Wa’alaulea takes place this weekend, to honor and celebrate the beauty and journey of the Mo’okiha O Pi’ilani, a 62-foot Polynesian voyaging canoe under construction on Maui.

Construction of the vessel began 16 years ago, and is finally approaching the last phases of construction.

Despite limitations on funding and labor, crew members and voyaging enthusiasts are on a mission to complete construction of the seafaring canoe.

The double-hulled vessel is a replica of ancient Polynesian voyaging canoes utilized by ancestors in their travels through the Hawaiian and Polynesian archipelago.

Waalaulea Entertainment Poster.


Voyaging siblings to the Mo’okiha O Pi’ilani include: Hawai’iloa in Honolulu, Makali’i in Kawaihae, Hoku Alaka’i in Hilo, and Hawai’i & Na Mahoe in Nawiliwili.  More mature canoes include the Mo’olele in Lahaina, and the Hokule’a in Kualoa on O’ahu.


The ongoing work on the Maui vessel comes as the Hokule’a prepares to embark on a worldwide voyage, earmarked for 2013.

Organizers of the Wa’alaulea event hope to raise awareness and support for the eventual launch of the Mo’okiha o Pi’ilani.

The weekend event runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 25, at Kamehameha Iki Beach Park in West Maui.


The entertainment lineup includes: Ernie Cruz Jr., Eric Gilliom, Amy Hanaiali’i, Wilson Kanaka’ole, Kapali Keahi, Mondo Kane, the Tahitian dance troupe Tava Nui, and Dr. Nat & Rio Ritmo.

There will also be food, crafts, a silent auction, door prizes, canoe rides, mo’olelo, and stargazing.

Hui O Wa’a Kaulua, the non profit organization hosting the event, was founded to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture through the education of ancient Polynesian seafaring and voyaging traditions.

The group was formed in 1975 to support the construction of double hull canoes.

Since then, the 42-foot Mo’olele was built with a traditional crab claw sail, and has served as a floating classroom for several decades.

The 62-foot Mo’okiha O Pi’ilani, currently under construction, will eventually be used to voyage across the Pacific to Tahiti.

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